RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — President Joe Biden on Saturday spoke with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, urging the leaders to allow humanitarian aid to the region and affirmed his support for efforts to protect civilians.
The weekend calls in Washington came ahead of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s announcement that the U.S. was moving up a second carrier strike group in support of Israel. Secretary of State Antony Blinken intensified diplomatic outreach across the Middle East and beyond to rally an international response to prevent the Israel-Hamas war from expanding.
The broad U.S. efforts reflect the international concern about the number of civilians at risk and the potential ramifications of a prolonged war as Israel told Gaza residents to move south and Hamas urged people to remain in their homes. The Biden administration has not publicly urged Israel to restrain its response after the Hamas attack a week ago, but has emphasized the country’s commitment to following the rules of war.
Addressing a Human Rights Campaign dinner Saturday in Washington, Biden linked the humanitarian crisis in Gaza to different versions of hate that he said must be stopped.
“A week ago we saw hate manifest another way in the worst massacre of the Jewish people since the Holocaust,” Biden said, citing the 1,300 lives lost in Israel as well as “children, grandparents alike kidnapped, held hostage by Hamas.”
“The humanitarian crisis in Gaza — innocent Palestinian families and the vast majority that have nothing to do with Hamas — they’re being used as human shields,” he said. “We have to reject hate in every form.”
Blinken met with Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan in Riyadh before stopping in the United Arab Emirates as he sought ways to help civilians trapped in between the fighting and to address the growing humanitarian crisis.
He also called his Chinese counterpart as Palestinians struggled to flee from areas of Gaza targeted by the Israeli military before an expected land offensive.